This is the second part of a series of posts about writing a story. (Again, when I write the word story, I mean a true tale, nonfiction). Here, I will discuss why your story matters and how to convey that.
The more you can explain the significance of the story and why it matters the more people you will reach. (Photo credit: Ron Henry)
Have you ever started watching a TV show and season one is so absolutely amazing that you’re obsessively glued to the screen? So much so that you don’t hear the doorbell, you unconsciously ignore your ringing phone, and your significant other has given up trying to tell you about his horrible day and gone in the bedroom and slammed the door. None of this registers.
Then season two comes around, and it might be almost as amazing, but you can tell it’s starting to go downhill (which may actually be a good thing for your personal life). There may be a few things you frown about, and you forgive them because season one was so great and you’re really hooked on the characters. But then season three is pretty bad (you can’t deny it anymore), and season four is dreadful, but you’re loyal and you keep watching. It doesn’t get better, and you feel like you’ve been conned.
Well, when you’re writing a story for your organization you will have much less time to keep people engaged. People will stick around for lousy TV shows because they’re hooked, but when it comes to your story, they have a million other things to do (including watching those lousy TV shows). So ultimately, you have to find a way to keep them engaged, and it has to be totally stellar.
We discussed how to engage your readers in the beginning. The next few posts are going to discuss some tips on how to keep your readers’ attention through the middle of the story.
Why Does Your Story Matter?
This is exactly what you need to answer in the first few paragraphs.
For example, in “Invisible Child: Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life” in The New York Times, reporter Andrea Elliott pulls you in by telling you about one child, Dasani, who lives in horrible conditions in a single room at a shelter with her seven siblings and her parents.
Then she broadens this and tells you Dasani is just one of 280 children at that shelter, and 22,000 homeless children live in New York, which, she writes, is “the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.”
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